Abstract

This article examines possible explanations for increased utilization of Powder River Basin (PRB) coal in electric power generation that occurred over the last two decades. Did more stringent environmental policy motivate electric power plants to switch to less polluting fuels? Or, did greater use of PRB coal occur because relative price changes altered input markets in favor of this fuel. A key finding is that factors other than environmental policy such as the decline in railroad freight rates together with elastic demand by power plants were major contributors to the increased utilization of this fuel.

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